The Story of Edgar Sawtelle boils down to a book about a boy and his dogs. Edgar is born mute, to a family of passionate dog breeders, dedicated to breeding the perfect companions – selecting dogs for certain elusive qualities that make them soulmates – or something else that is just beyond defining. Trouble starts when Edgar’s uncle, Claude, returns to town. Edgar’s father, Gar, dies mysteriously, and then Claude starts to manuver into his place, capturing his mother’s (Trudy) affections. Edgar is forced to run away into the Chequamagon with 3 of his dogs – learning to survive in the woods on his own.
It’s a good read, not the kind of book that I can’t put down at night, but it moved along quickly and easily for a volume or its size. I finished the book tonight, was surprised by the ending, and am still trying to make sense of it. It will be a good book to discuss at our book club, whenever we get around to officially reading that one.
Spoiler Alert: if you don’t care
I was wandering around online, looking for Dr. Papineau’s first name, when I got distracted by a forum where someone suggested there were strong parallels between Edgar Sawtelle and Hamlet. His father dies, his mother takes up with his uncle, and then there is the matter of the accidental killing – behind drapes in Hamlet, and beyond a door in Edgar Sawtelle’s. Plus the tragic outcome is certainly characteristic of Shakespearean tragedies (except for the last chapter, which does soften the blow for me). Honestly, I don’t remember Shakespeare well enough to make my own conclusions, and this is all from the anonymous poster on the forum I saw, but I thought the idea was interesting anyway.